Finding the next home

Finding that next home is not as easy as I thought it would be. I was smart; I researched properties carefully using Zillow, compiled a list that took us to areas within a 30-mile distance to Portland, and off we went.

It’s been a wild chase. We’ve learned that a gentle slope means a steep dropoff, that irrigated farmland is realtor speak for boggy bottom land, a sweeping lawn that was photographed from about 2 inches off the ground is really a tatty little lawn, and that a cute 40’s era house high on a bluff with a great view of the river, is a house that was built too close to the edge of the precipice, with the very real possibility of stepping out of the back door and falling off the 90-foot drop.

It’s been discouraging, but our wanderings have helped us zero in on the areas we like best, and now it’s time to find realtors and get on their drip list.

This moving better happen soon. I’m starting to lose steam for the task; the more times we come home after viewing another unsuitable property, the more I want to stay in my home.

Leaving it all behind

The kids have flown to their own lives, we want to live leaner, and now it’s time to let go of our beautiful big house that has sheltered us so well for 20 years. The new dream house is a place in the country with a little land around it, no more than an hour’s drive from Portland.

Big order. I looked at the map and saw all the wide open spaces around Portland and thought it would be easy to find a couple of acres with a view. Something with an elevation so we’re not living on soggy bottom land. It turns out a lot of people want the same thing, so our choices appear limited.  Our search has been cursory, though, we need to get serious and settle on an area and engage a realtor.

And we have to do this while my husband works at his stressful job and I pack up our goods and work on the interior of our house to get it ready to sell.

Ah, packing. I’m astonished at how much of my stuff I really don’t care about, how easy it is to let it go. It’s not downsizing as much as shedding. Room by room: a big box for Goodwill and one for a garage sale, a trash bag, and boxes for the things that make the cut.

A corner of the basement is stacked with boxes of items we’re taking with us. Lord, just the idea of hauling these boxes to a storage unit, carrying them into our new forever home, and then unpacking and finding a place to put everything makes me want to chuck them all.

More writing advice

A writing friend sent me Wired for Story, which is another book about writing. I have a stack of these books; some are filled with helpful advice, others have at least one good thing to say. Wired for Story said something I’ve heard for years, but in a way that I finally understood, and that is every story must have the hero’s journey, an internal goal, and that the journey isn’t part of the story, it is the story. When the journey or goal is missing, the story has no focus, no direction, no heart; ultimately it’s lifeless.

Another point from the book is that every story has a moment when the story begins for the main character, when he/she decides to enter the story. Everything that happens before that moment is background/ scene setting.

Becoming a character

I’m watching old episodes of the Sherlock Holmes with the incomparable Jeremy Brett and found an interview he gave about how was able to create such a memorable Holmes. He said, “I’m like a sponge, I squeeze the liquid of myself out and draw in the liquid of the creature I’m playing.”

It’s the same with writing: becoming a character allows that character to live and the story to come to life. This immersion requires uninterrupted time with no distractions. Pacing around is ok, talking to myself is necessary, but no wandering into the kitchen to look inside the fridge, the cupboards..oh, popcorn, I’ll make popcorn! And no checking the devil email.

I’m a showoff

I’ve spent the last few months training to become a tour guide in the city’s Japanese Garden. It required hours of classes, giving a lot of practice tours, doing outside research, which I love, and many, many hours practicing my guide talk in my living room.

I’m not a great public speaker. I tend to freeze at the mic, but my inner showoff is emerging and leading tours is going to be fun.

Next time, I’ll proof the proof!

Oh, lord, why did I ignore the advice to read the proof for my book thoroughly before approving it for publication. All I did was admire the title page and flip through the book to make sure the page numbers were in sequence.

After I published Anthra’s Moon, a sharp-eyed reader found a few typos from a last minute revision I made. I’m disappointed because I wanted this book to be perfect, perfect I tell you! But it’s not.

Lesson learned: Don’t be in a rush at the end. Take the time to read the proof and get another pair of eyes on it.

I’m not a marketeer

But my daughter-in-law and good friend, Samantha is. Damn, that girl is good. She’s taking over the social media/ marketing role and is designing a poster, postcards, and bookmarks for my book signing event for Anthra’s Moon.

“You need a Facebook page,” she says. I nod and change my baby granddaughter’s diaper while Samantha happily types away on her laptop, setting up my author’s page on Facebook and Goodreads. After that, she links my various author’s sites together: Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and my website.

Next on her list is connecting me with QR codes, bar codes that can be displayed on posters, bookmarks, etc. that give people with smartphones instant access to my book on Amazon. I’m amazed by all this linkage. I thought I was computer savvy, but my skills are like drawing in the sand with a stick compared to Sam’s expertise.